Hisham Harold Breedlove might be unknown to many a Zimbabwean music lover, but his voice has dazzled classical music connoisseurs in some of the world’s capitals.
A former Prince Edward School student, Breedlove first struck gold after making it into the internationally–acclaimed Drakensberg Boys’ Choir in South Africa in 1996.
He told NewsDay that he joined the choral group after they had conducted auditions in Harare in 1996 and he was among those chosen from Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique.
“This meant a lot to my family,” he recalled.
“My grandmother used to be an opera singer, and I had always wanted to be a musician with one of the best choirs in the world.”
The following year, the choir came first after competing with other boys’ choirs from the US and Europe.
In 1999, he secured an opportunity to go to the US, where he had to do two years of college on a full scholarship at Howard University.
But after two years, he was told there was no money anymore for his education, after which he moved to Washington Adventist College, run by the Seventh DayAdventist Church.
He later moved to New York and met up with James Bingham, a music director, and joined his choir and this was a great breakthrough for him. He was then taken through a gruelling audition.
“It was tough piece of music, over two hours, and I led the section I was in,” he reflected.
“They then asked me to join the college, but I didn’t have money so they gave me a scholarship on condition that I had to start right from the beginning.”
Breedlove, who will be graduating in May this year, said his parents did not understand what was happening as he constantly had to change colleges.
Concerning his future after college, Breedlove said he was still fence-sitting, but would like to come back to Zimbabwe and teach music at his former school, Prince Edward.
At his mother’s suggestion, Breedlove, who also plays the piano, said he was trying his hand at the traditional Shona thumb piano (mbira).
“During the Black Africa Month this year, I played mbira and karimba,” he said. “But I still want to be fluent in that.”
He added that he often earned his bread by playing the mbira and singing opera in underground train tunnels and travellers enthralled by his music gave him money.